Everybody thinks the Cleveland Cavaliers overspent by giving up two first-round picks in a trade for Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov.
As Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal points out, the only players to yield two first-rounders in a trade since 2011 are Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, James Harden, and Andre Iguodala. Those guys are All-Stars, MVPs, and Olympic gold medalists. Mozgov isn’t. He has never averaged 10 points per game in a season.
Even Cavs GM David Griffin, the guy who made the trade, said, “I think Denver got an unbelievably good trade out of this.”
In a vacuum, it’s a lopsided deal. Mozgov isn’t worth two first-round picks in terms of raw value.
But in context, it was a trade the Cavs had to make, because the entire experiment of the LeBron-Love-Kyrie Cavs was at risk of collapsing if things continued as they were.
Kevin Love is a free agent after this season. The reasons he’d stay in Cleveland are convincing. The Cavs can offer him more years and money than any other team. In addition, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reported in August that Cleveland made the Love trade with a “firm agreement” that he’d re-sign there on a $US120 million deal after the season.
But we are a long way from August. Love is going to be a free agent no matter what, and whatever “firm agreement” he had with Cleveland isn’t binding. Right now the Cavs are 19-17, and Love has had to sacrifice his game more than LeBron and Kyrie have. His numbers are down significantly across the board.
The nightmare scenario for Cleveland is what happened with the Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012-13. The Lakers traded for Howard in the summer of 2012 knowing that he’d be a free agent after the season. They assumed they’d be a title contender, and Dwight re-signing with the team was a mere formality.
Instead, the season went off the rails immediately and Dwight signed with the Houston Rockets in free agency, despite a more lucrative offer from L.A. It was catastrophic for the Lakers.
The Cavaliers gave up two No. 1-overall picks (including Andrew Wiggins, who has looked awesome recently) for Love. Losing him after one season would be a disaster. They have to do everything they can to win now and avoid a Dwight-Lakers scenario.
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